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Hammond Shoes shuts its doors

    Hammond Shoes, a fixture in downtown Sonora for years, is going out of business.
    Established in 1962 by Bill Hammond, the store, at 4 S. Washington St., was bustling with bargain hunters Tuesday morning. The store was originally near the intersection of Stockton Road and Washington Street before it moved to its current location.
    The store sells everything from men’s steel-toed work boots to flashy women’s dress shoes.
    Hammond’s owner Darrel Bieker expects his remaining inventory will be sold by mid-December. But, he said, it all depends on whether shoppers show up. He said about 40 percent of his inventory has been sold since his going-out-of-business sale began Nov. 26.
        “I wish you could do it in a week, but it never turns out like that,” he said.
    The story behind the store’s closing isn’t a sad one. Though over the past year and a half, the recession has slowed down customer traffic, Bieker said Hammond Shoes has been a viable business for the 18 years that he owned it.
    Bieker said he’s closing simply because he wants to retire. He’s 68.
    George Segarini, president and CEO of the Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce, recalled that Hammond Shoes was around when he first arrived in Sonora 30 years ago.
    “You always hate to see a long-time established business go,” Segarini said. “They will be missed.”
    But there could be good news on the horizon for Hammond Shoes customers: The store’s manager, Rick Hoppe, is trying to secure financing to open his own shoe store in the same location.
    Hoppe’s plan is to sell a product line similar to Hammond Shoes, according to Bieker.
    Hammond Shoes’ product line is made up of footwear from Dansko, Dunham, New Balance, Red Wing, Spira, Wesco, White Boots, Naot, Rieker, Soft Spots, J-41 and Sofft.

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